‘The Winchesters’ Boss on the Origin of Those Terrifying Monsters & Samuel Campbell’s Return
[Warning: The following contains plot points from The Winchesters‘ Season 1, Episode 3, “You’re Lost Little Girl.” So if you don’t want to be spoiled, go climb into a sack and wait for Mary to find you.]
The Winchesters continues to creep us the eff out with a new and horrifying creature that you will want to Wiki once the chills subside. Known as the Bori Baba, or “Sack Man,” this week’s creature liked to “play with its food,” which tended to be children it abducted using their most treasured possessions. Lovely. Oh, it climbs walls with distended limbs, because why sleep anymore, right?
Along the way, however, we got more peeks into Latta’s (Nida Khurshid) past, a fun team-up for Carlos (Jojo Fleites) and Ada (Demetria McKinney), and the first hints at a budding, well, something, between Mary (Meg Donnelly) and John (Drake Rodger). Oh, and there was a major revelation about who is overseeing the Akrida and a teeny taste of what she is up to.
Here, showrunner Robbie Thompson gives us some backstory on how they came up with the episode’s terrifying demon and how keeping two characters apart will actually pull them closer together.
OK, what is up with this Bori Baba? Because that thing is nightmare fuel.
Robbie Thompson: Oh yeah. [Laughs]
And it’s actually rooted in actual cultural lore, correct?
Yep. You know, when I was on Supernatural, Sera Gamble used to always say “Our monsters have to be Googleable.” So they need a real-world foundation that we can obviously then put our own spin on. David H. Goodman, who’s an EP on the show, when we were kind of blue-skying the first couple weeks, he pitched this monster. Actually, we had like a dozen or so monsters that came up really, really quickly because all the writers just came in pitching fastballs, okay? But this was the one that we just kept coming around to. And then Gabriel Garza, who wrote the episode, did a fantastic job, along with our crew down in New Orleans that really put together a true creep. Which was what we wanted to do with this episode. Oftentimes you have your pilot and then the second episode is kind of a re-pilot. But we wanna live in a true “monster of the week” world and be really scary.
Well you succeeded there. Especially because you’re also dealing with kids and anything that preys on children is terrifying.
We have a weekly meeting for each episode called the Monster Mash. And every single department kind of pitches in. And the wonderful thing about our crew in New Orleans is that they’re all storytellers and they all want this to look as cool as possible. And for this one, I give a huge hat tip to Claudia Yarmy, who came in and directed the episode as well.
The idea of Mary being so caught up in what would happen if she had to stop hunting was a great twist. And Meg Donnelly killed it because we really do finally see how, even though she has a team, she’s kind of solitary.
You know, that is something that’s easy to write, but hard to play, that’s how I would put it. And Meg has done a really good job of being both guarded and vulnerable, so this was really an opportunity for both the character and her, particularly, to shine. And I thought she crushed it. And not to get granular, but the way they shot those scenes with her and Drake in two different locations? That’s really hard to do. And both of the kids did just an amazing job. Amazing.
Those radio call scenes also felt key to the development of their connection.
Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, we really looked at this episode as a way to maybe not start the romance in earnest, but to really kind of show that these are two people headed right for one another. And the best way to do that is to split them up. [Laughs]
And even to reference the way they met with her saying, “You found me once before, you’ll find me again.” In any other situation, that could play cheesy, but it directly refers to the fact that he tracked her down in the pilot.
Totally did. And again, you hit the nail on the head. It’s really Megan and Drake, the way they play those scenes is really special. Our whole cast is really special.
Well, that’s something I did wanna talk about because it’s not easy to launch a show and have an ensemble gel like this so early on. It was so smart to bring John into a team that already existed and let these characters already be living in their connections and chemistry.
That’s exactly it. I mean, from a design standpoint, we wanted them to have a history that he’s walking into. And again, I lay all of the success on that at the feet of these actors. They bonded during the pilot and that bond has only grown since. They are extremely tight, they really look after one another. And they’re great leaders on set. I could not have asked for better partners and again, another tip of the hat to Robert Ulrich and his casting crew. You never know how these processes are gonna go and I remember in the casting stage, he was like, “You’re gonna get the right people. You always end up with the right people, don’t worry.” And then he was right, right? We got really special kids.
It must be heartening to see the show developing to a point where you realize, “Oh, we may not need to rely on too much from the Supernatural archives” because this world is building so nicely.
That was something that was really important and it’s why we wanted to kind of have the group —along with Bianca Kajlich and Demetria McKinney, who are both phenomenal as well. To your point, there’s history amongst all of them, but it’s history that we’re building in conjunction with 327 episodes of history. So it’s been really a fun dance, but as we’ve kind of gotten into it, the story’s really been able to kinda live in its own space in a really organic way. And I’m really excited for folks to see where we go.
I am so glad you say that about Demetria. And I need to ask for more Bianca because I feel like she has been so underrated as an actress for years.
Oh god, yes. Both Demetria and Bianca are lights-out amazing. And they’re also playing the history in a much different way. Again, you talk about chemistry, you know, Drake and Bianca have really found that. You’ll see it in the next episode, as Millie is pulled into the story a little bit more. And playing that history is hard to do—with Henry having disappeared when John was only four, those two characters have been in the trenches a long time. Millie is not the warm-and-fuzzy ’70s mom. [Laughs] She’s just not and so, they’ve been in it and they have this kind of rapport, but again, it’s easy to write and is really hard to play. And they really found it. The same with Demetria. It has been such a joy to kind of hint at her history and then we’ll really unpack it in Episode 5.
Clearly, music is vital to the show’s vibe because of the time period and the music that you get to use. But then the reveal at the end of the hour, which actually incorporates the disc jockey into your overarching story, was brilliant. Now you can use her and the music cues throughout the entire season.
Yeah. Yeah. That was something that the writers came up with early on in the season and it was one of those moments where you’re like, “Oh, that’s in that movie!” Like, you know how it was so evocative of some of the movies we’ve been referencing from the era that came out around the same time. Like American Graffiti had the deejay who was Wolfman Jack and things like that.
And even though American Graffiti was lighter and more Americana comedy, those bits with Wolfman Jack on the radio and the fact that it was all happening at night always made that film feel a little dangerous.
Totally. A hundred percent.
So I am guessing Bridget Regan’s “Rockin’ Roxy” will continue to gather various wayward spirits.
We will definitely see more of Roxy. And Bridget has been another fantastic partner. I just watched her in Episode 7 this weekend and she’s terrific in it.
Nice, nice, nice. And that is also Tom Welling‘s debut as Samuel, correct?
We definitely will be seeing Samuel in that episode, played by the great Tom Welling who has come in and just instantly fit in. No surprise at all. He’s been amazing from the first phone call he and I had. Jensen and Danneel pitched him originally and I was like, “Yes!” And then in speaking to him, you know, he just got it. He just got it right away and again, we were talking before about chemistry… they just shot it last, last week, some scenes between him and Meg, and it was just instant and it was just a real credit to both of those actors to find that gear so quickly.
So when you look at Drake and you look at a younger Tom Welling, did you all agree that “Oh yeah, Mary definitely married her dad”?
[Laughs] I don’t know that, I don’t know if we had an agreement. I think it speaks to the history of hotness on The CW. That’s the real truth, The CW has a type!
The Winchesters, Tuesdays, 8/7c, The CW